I don't like Big Brother. No. I hate it. In my view it reaches depths of pointlessness previously unknown. What is there to like about a bunch of no-name morons jabbering away about their inconsequential little lives? I have an inconsequential life of my own to jabber on about, thanks all the same.
However, much as I loathe the thing that has become known as BB, and all of it's bastard spawn reality shows, it has rather raised a serious issue in recent months.
You don't have to spend your Friday evenings in front of the television waiting for Davina to tell you who has been evicted to know that one former Big Brother participant, Jade Goody, is suffering from an aggressive form of cervical cancer. Tragically, the prognosis for Jade is extremely grim. From giving her a 40% chance of survival doctors have now had to inform her that her disease has spread to her liver and elsewhere, giving her only a miniscule chance of living to tell the tale.
Yet however much of that tale Jade will be able to relay to us is currently in the process of being captured entirely on film. Despite being stricken with this awful disease, Jade continues to allow and indeed encourage camera crews to follow her every move in her latest reality series. I'm afraid I don't know the name of it. It's not the issue.
The issue is whether or not this is morally correct. Is such a harrowing fight for life suitable viewing for an increasingly voyeuristic public? At what point do we draw the line and say 'no more'? Let this woman deal with her diabolical circumstances in private. She is a 27-year-old woman, about to be struck down less than a third into what would have been her natural life. She is also a mother. A more devastating set of circumstances is difficult to envisage, and yet here we are peering through the window at her in anticipation of well........goodness knows what.
You can't blame Jade. She might be annoying, crass, less than intelligent and a generally undeserved television star. Yet she is equally underserving of such a depressing fate. Her quest to get one final pay day to make sure that her children are looked after when she is gone is arguably the likely response of any young mother placed in that situation. No. The media are to blame for this vulgar peep show. Though Jade does little to discourage them, the television executives and producers should feel shame at even conceiving of the idea to put her plight so brightly in the spotlight.
In short, we should not know anything about this. Jade, may she be blessed by whatever sick power is up there, should not be famous. Famous people sing, dance, act, make people laugh, perform feats of sporting excellence. They do not sit on a sofa giggling inanely and rabbiting on constantly about themselves. Having made the mistake of thrusting Jade into the public eye without good reason, the money-mad television people are simply compounding that error by following the poor girl through what looks to be her final ordeal.
If any good is to come of this sorry episode it could well be in the response of young women who can relate to Jade. If even one young girl decides to go for a potentially life-saving smear test because of seeing Jade on the television then perhaps we should feel thankful. Yet do not let those responsible for her fly on the wall account of battling cancer take any plaudits should that happen. This is not the way forward. We must use the education system and other approaches to broadcasting to get the message across about how important an issue this is. We should not have to witness the apalling demise of a young woman at such close quarters in order to raise awareness and save lives in the future.
For all the negatives in this piece about Jade I should like to point out that I hope with every inch of my being that she defies the odds and wins her fight. Seeing her make a full recovery would inspire me and thrill me in equal measure. At that point she can make all the reality television she likes and good luck to her.
Just don't expect me to watch.
By Stephen Orford